Thornton Whites Under-13s extended their unbeaten run in the Blackpool and District Youth League to 10 matches but had to be patient to break down a resilient Lytham Blues at Park View Playing Fields.
The Lytham camp had been hit by a sickness bug which meant they were unable to name any substitutes for this Silver Division clash, though they succeeded in keeping in-form Thornton at bay until early in the second half.
The visitors had plenty of chances in the first half but were frustrated by outstanding goalkeeping by Bradley Thorley and by the posts and crossbar. Indeed, Whites manager Garry Ray joked that the woodwork may well need repainting!
Thornton also had a first-half goal disallowed for handball in the build-up but the breakthrough was finally made shortly after the restart.
Prince Yelagon’s shot from the right was parried by keeper Thorley and landed at the feet of Adam Meadows, who followed up to strike home.
The Blues did have chances too and Whites keeper Christopher Ray made some fine saves like his opposite number.
The hosts’ best chance to equalise came when striker Rhys Hughes rounded the keeper but couldn’t get his shot on target. And Thornton made the most of this let-off 15 minutes from time, when Yelagon burst forward to fire home from outside the box and wrap up the victory.
Manager Paul Wright admits his Blues side are struggling this season but continue to show an admirable attitude.
He said: “It was a bit backs to the wall because we had 11 out due to illness. We did live a charmed life but we had chances of our own and it was a great battling performance.
“They don’t allow their heads to drop and they are looking forward to their last game before the Christmas break.”
The Whites started the season slowly but were named team of the month for October and have maintained their form since, now standing second in the table.
Manager Garry Ray said: “It was a one-sided game but they defended well and their keeper was fantastic.”
Keeper Thorley was duly named Lytham’s man of the match, while midfielder Cameron Rawcliffe got the not for the Whites. The substitute made a massive contribution in the second half with his exceptional work rate.
The influential recruitment of Yelagon and of Adam and Jack Meadows has been a major boost to the Whites this season, though nobody is guaranteed a place. Indeed, names are drawn from a hat to determine who plays, ensuring everyone has a chance.
Manager Ray says this policy is working for team spirit … and it clearly isn’t doing results any harm either.